Open Source Windows/Linux FM Synths

It’s got an incredibly ugly interface, and it ain’t Native Instruments FM7 by any stretch, but CuteVST has two things going for it: first, it’s an FM synth that’s open source, and second, it imports Yamaha DX7 sysex data. So think of the ugly interface as geek cred. It’s the real deal: classic 6-operator synthesis, […]

Automatic Instrument Cloning: SampleRobot 1.5 (Whither Hand-Sampling?)

Earlier this week, I noted that a new feature of the second-generation NeKo keyboard is its ability to clone hardware. (Especially enjoy that picture of them cloning a Korg OASYS — guess you need to either sneak into Sam Ash or find a friend who has everything. Like Herbie Hancock.) Anyway, if you want a […]

NeKo Windows/Keyboard Hybrids: The Next Generation

Open Labs’ NeKos are powerful keyboards that pack a full-blown Windows PC, tuned software, and control surfaces into a single musical instrument. They’ve got some heavy-hitting celebrity endorsements, and they’re rugged: one NeKo managed to continue functioning after being being beaten with a baseball bat and set on fire by DJ Richard Devine. This month, […]

Advances in Toaster Music Technology

I try to keep on top of all the trends, but some just seem to pass me by. Like the explosion in toaster music hardware. Get LoFi gets the scoop on toaster synths, shown above, which is what you get when you cram a bunch of synth electronics into a toaster. Maybe all that extra […]

Free/Cheap Soundware for Ableton Live: Covert Operators Goes Prime-Time

The Covert Operators now have their own Website, and they’re filling it up with tons of sound content for Ableton Live. You may recall the excellent free Covert Operators preset library (most of them for Ableton’s Operator synth); it’s back and newly-updated, for a total of 700 nicely-organized presets. On top of that is the […]

Breaking: Hartmann, Makers of Neuron Synth, Dead?

Another one bites the dust? I’ve just been tipped off that Hartmann Music, the makers of the unusual but innovative synth, have closed shop. There’s a statement in their German news, but it hasn’t yet been translated to English. (See further discussion in a thread on KVR.) More on this as it happens; German speakers […]

Transcend: 2D Shooter Game / Musical Sculpture

2D shooter? Interactive sound sculpture? Why choose one when you can have both? Transcend is an open-source, cross-platform (Mac/Windows build or *nix source), 2D shooter game. Thanks to morphing shapes and what the developer calls a “musical power-up system,” as you shoot your way through the levels you’re simultaneously “assembling an abstract visual collage and […]

Obsessive Cassette Tape Collection

Okay, which is scarier — the fact that someone obsessively photographed hundreds of cassette tapes, or that you remember almost each individual design variation and are looking through them, feeling waves of nostalgia for mix tapes past? Cassette Jam ’05 (via Make: Blog See also the somewhat befuddling Project C-90 (see sam bot). I can’t […]

Music Player Live Reviewed; RiffWorks Software Perfect for Writing Songs

Jordan Kolasinski, a grad student in Music Technology at NYU, reports to CDM on the Music Player Live event here in New York over the weekend. Verdict: not so hot, but Jordan did get the scoop on a fantastic piece of software for improvising and creating songs called RiffWorks (shown), currently Windows-only and bundled with […]

Ethnomusicologist Lysloff Responds: Finding Skillful 8-bit Music

It seems I may have misunderstood the comments of at least one of the experts quoted in’s recent story on 8-bit music. (See my original comments and ensuing discussion.) Ethnomusicologist Rene T.A. Lysloff, faculty at the University of California Riverside and author of Music and Technoculture, writes in response; here’s his letter in its […]